Pros: Plenty of charm and bags of creativity in this show that conveys some really important messages whilst remaining both interesting and entertaining.
Cons: The play could’ve delved deeper into the environmental impact of mistreating our planet.
Did you know that 4 billion trees are cut down each year to meet the demand for paper across the globe? Did you also know that if every person in the UK recycled just 10% more paper it would save approximately 5 million trees each year? Nope, nor did we until we spent an enchanting hour in Islington over the Easter weekend.
We were greeted at Little Angel Studios by a friendly receptionist in a hi-vis jacket and hard hat, asking if we were here for a tour of the recycling plant. The small congregation of adults and children soon meet the charming Scoop (Lori Hopkins) and her serious colleague who introduce them formally to the L.A.R.C (Little Angel Recycling Centre).There’s an initial quiz for the group, like a treasure hunt of recycling facts drawn from the posters on the factory walls which lasts for just the right amount of time. I was very aware that a good balance must be struck when watching a show which contains an educational message and thankfully Junk gets it right.
While her supervisor steps out of the guided tour, the junk-loving guide sneaks us into her room of lost and found treasures and introduces the story of Bertie: a plastic bottle whose only dream is to be recycled into a kite and soar around the world. The personification of an object is a brilliant device, giving a direct interest for the children to follow its journey, empathise with its desire to be recycled and care about where materials end up and who they can affect.
Designed by Emma Tompkins, the amazing set and props were regarded with fascination by the whole audience. Amongst the hoard of treasure, with which Scoop would make do and mend, was a discarded umbrella re-purposed as a huge octopus to which Bertie clings as he makes his way through the sea. We were also hugely impressed by an enormous chandelier crafted from watering cans. The puppetry did not disappoint in this production: mesmerising shadow puppets depicted a furious chase through the sewers, and rod puppets of the shoes of passers-by were comically wielded to represent a whole range of characters.
The children have a very important role in the storytelling; providing a soundtrack, special effects and answering questions to help inform the narrative. It’s wonderful to hear the knowledge they already had about the effects of carrier bags in the sea: “They stay there for hundreds of years”, “The turtles think the bags are jelly fish and choke on them”. The children took great delight in swaying carrier bags that had been gently inflated to mimic jelly fish, proudly played their thunder tube percussion and enjoyed whooping the sound of the wind.
Recommended for 7-12 year olds, this show is an endearing and engaging piece of work that will support their early awareness of the environment. For those with younger ones do be aware there is a role playing element and focus is required to join in at specific moments. Considering the age group they were aiming at, I felt that they could’ve used even more powerful imagery at times , and there was opportunity to hit home with an even stronger message. We often feel it’s our responsibility alone to improve and protect the environment for our children’s future, but Junk helped to show that this age group can already start to be proactive in shaping the quality of their world.
As an avid recycler of anything she can get her hands on for craft projects, my daughter thought this was a really cool interactive show.
Producer: Little Angel Theatre
Designer: Emma Tompkins
Booking Until: 29 April 2018
Box Office: 020 7226 1787
Booking Link: https://littleangeltheatre.com/uncategorized/junk/